Every once in a while I meet someone who has no idea the range of programming offered by the Minnesota Historical Society, and how fun so much of it is. There’s no better time of year to explore all they have to offer than December. The Historical Society really knows how to celebrate the holidays.
Alexander Ramsey House
265 S. Exchange St.
Holiday hours: 11/16/11-1/1/12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wed.-Sat., noon-3 p.m. Sun.
Price: $11 adults, $9 seniors and college students, $7 for children ages 6-17; $3 discount for MHS members.
How did Victorian-era St. Paulites celebrate the holidays? In lovely style. “A Victorian Christmas” highlights the decorations, traditions, and music of the time—and even provides visitors with cookies baked right in the kitchen’s wood-burning stove. Reservations recommended.
James J. Hill House
240 Summit Ave.
The James J. Hill House, the gloriously sumptuous mansion near downtown St. Paul and across the street from the St. Paul Cathedral, has several events planned.
Hill House Holidays
Holiday hours: Sat.-Sun., Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18, 1-3:30 p.m.
Price: $10 adults, $8 seniors and college students, $6 for children ages 6-17; $2 discount for MHS members.
A one-hour program takes visitors through the beautiful mansion where they’ll learn about servant life and holiday preparations as told by costumed actors. The script is based on letters and oral histories of people who worked for the Hill family during the first decade of the 20th century. Reservations recommended.
Victorian Christmas Stories
Holiday hours: Sun., Dec. 11 & 18, 6 p.m.
Pricee: $10 adults, $8 seniors and college students, $6 for children ages 6-17; $2 discount for MHS members.
More costumed actors will be on hand, this time giving readings of classic holiday stories by Willa Cather, O. Henry, Hans Christian Anderson and selections from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Reservations recommended.
A Christmas Memory
Holiday hours: Thurs.-Fri., Dec. 1, 2, 8 & 9, 7:30 p.m.
Price: $10/$8 MHS members.
The classic holiday story by Truman Capote is brought to life by costumed actors. Reservations recommended.
100 Years of Christmas at Dayton’s
Holiday hours: Mon., Dec. 12, 7 p.m.
Price: $9 adults, $7 seniors and college students, $6 for children ages 6-17. Free for MHS members.
Still miss the hometown department store? This is your chance to revisit the glory days of Dayton’s with Christmas historian James Neagbour, who will give an illustrated talk on holiday traditions from Dayton’s Department Stores. Reservations recommended.
Oliver H. Kelley Farm
15788 Kelly Farm Rd NW
Toy Making Workshop
Holiday hours: Sat., Dec. 3, 1-3 p.m.
Price: $6/$4 MHS members
Want to be an elf yourself this year? This is your chance. Participants will have the opportunity to make several 19th-century toys, like corn-husk doll and pick-up sticks. Reservations required.
Christmas on the Farm
Holiday hours: Sat.-Sun., Dec. 10-11, 2 p.m.
Price: $7/$5 MHS members
A 75-minute guided tour (including a horse- or oxen-drawn wagon ride) will show you how holidays were celebrated in simpler times. Dress for cold weather (and know that the tour ends with warm refreshments in the Visitor Center). Reservations required.
Mill City Museum
704 S. 2nd St.
Holiday hours: Dec. 2, 9, 10, 11, at 6, 7 & 8 p.m.
Price: $14 adults, $12 seniors and college students, $10 for children ages 6-17 and MHS members.
An “Eventually” Christmas: Holidays at the Mill
With a nod to Dickens, this tour is led by the Ghost of Mill City Past. The “Ghost” will tell historically accurate stories of holiday parties long ago, full of romance and danger, and enlighten visitors as to how the Washburn Crosby company came by its slogan: “Eventually—why not now?” Reservations required.
Minnesota History Center
345 Kellogg Blvd.
Holiday hours: Mon., Dec. 26, 1-4 p.m.
The annual “festival of the fruits” tradition continues at the History Center, where participants will enjoy storytelling, African drumming and dancing, and art activities.
Amy C. Rea lives with her family in the Twin Cities. She’s the author of Backroads & Byways of Minnesota and Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes: an Explorer’s Guide. She can also be found chatting about Minnesota travel topics at www.flyover-land.com.